COLUMBUS, Ohio — It might not have seemed so based on its 78-73 first-round NCAA women's tournament win over Central Michigan on Saturday, but Oklahoma has talked with regularity about the value of offensive rebounding since the end of the regular season.
The Sooners need only to look back to an early season home loss for another illustration of that fact as they head into a second-round game against UCLA at 6:15 p.m. Monday in St. John Arena.
On Nov. 14, then No. 11-ranked Oklahoma came down with just six offensive rebounds in an 86-80 loss to unranked UCLA.
The third-seeded Bruins, who have 6-foot-1 Markel Walker at one guard spot and three others in their lineup who are at least 5-11, will present some of the same matchup issues that hindered the sixth-seeded Sooners in the earlier matchup.
“We've had two weeks to work on (offensive rebounding) and we've talked about it,” coach Sherri Coale said. “We've been on it since the first time we played UCLA back in November.”
Oklahoma (23-10) was out-rebounded on the offensive end 23-11 by Central Michigan, but Joanna McFarland scored 18 points and came away with 13 defensive rebounds as she finished with a career-high 17 rebounds to compensate.
Although the Chippewas took 84 shots, they made just 26.
In the earlier matchup with UCLA (26-7), the Bruins shot 44 percent from the floor and missed 14 free throws but took 15 more shots than the Sooners.
“You can't give up 23 offensive boards,” Coale said. “We have to shoot a little better. We'll maybe have better luck shooting it better than with the rebounding thing.
“What concerns me is why we don't block people out. You can't just stand in front of them. You need to push them back. We need to do a better job of that.”
In addition to the rebounding and size advantage UCLA has entering the rematch, the Bruins believe the balance they display on offense makes them difficult to defend.